George, Diana. “From Analysis to Design: Visual Communication in the Teaching of Writing.”

George, Diana. “From Analysis to Design: Visual Communication in the Teaching of Writing.” College Composition and Communication, vol. 54, no. 1, Sept. 2002, pp. 11-39.


“In an attempt to bring composition studies into a more thoroughgoing discussion of the place of visual literacy in the writing classroom, I argue that throughout the history of writing instruction in this country the terms of debate typical in discussions of visual literacy and the teaching of writing have limited the kinds of assignments we might imagine for composition.”

Keywords: images, the visual, visual argument, visual communication, visual rhetoric, visual culture, composition, students


  • I am after a clearer understanding of what can happen when the visual is very consciously brought into the composition classroom as a form of communication worth both examining and producing (14).

  • taste and critical judgment are learned habits of mind [Postman] (17).

  • what can a picture tell you about wind or heat, about sound or smell, about motion, about the feeling of roughness or moisture? Nothing directly; it can only suggest [Gardiner, Kittredge, and Arnold] (21).

  • Designing transforms knowledge in producing new constructions and representations of reality” (76; see also Buchanan on the rhetoric of design) (26).

  • the issue seems to be less one of resources than of emphasis or, rather, relationship … the question is much closer to one Anne Wysocki and Johndan Johnson-Eilola ask: “What are we likely to carry with us when we ask that our relationship with all technologies should be like that we have with the technology of printed words?” (349) (32).

  • For students who have grown up in a technology-saturated and an image-rich culture, questions of communication and composition absolutely will include the visual, not as attendant to the verbal but as complex communication intricately related to the world around them (32).


  • Berger, John. Ways of Seeing. London: BBC and Penguin, 1977.

  • Blair, J. Anthony. “The Possibility and Actuality of Visual Arguments.” Argumentation and Advocacy 33 (1996): 23–39.

  • Faigley, Lester. “Material Literacy and Visual Design.” Rhetorical Bodies: Toward a Material Rhetoric. Ed. Jack Selzer and Sharon Crowley. Madison: U of Wisconsin P, 1999. 171–201.

  • George, Diana, and Diane Shoos. “Dropping Breadcrumbs in the Intertextual Forest: or, We Should Have Brought a Compass.” Ed. Gail Hawisher and Cynthia Selfe, Passions, Pedagogies, and Twentieth-First Century Technologies. Logan: Utah State UP, 1999. 115–26.

  • Mitchell, W. J. T. Picture Theory. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1994.

  • New London Group. “A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies: Designing Social Futures.” Harvard Educational Review 66 (1996): 60–92.

  • Wysocki, Anne Frances. “Monitoring Order: Visual Desire, the Organization of Web Pages, and Teaching the Rules of Design.” Kairos 3.2 (Fall 1998). 12 Jun. 2002 <;.


  • Sensing more connections than filled with questions around this article, particularly with the idea of what happens when we loosely guide rather than explicitly direct (Syllabus).

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